Good news in North Dakota thanks to dedicated activists. https://t.co/U1TkN4sN8g
— ACLU ?? (@ACLU) November 1, 2018
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Efforts by American Indian tribes in North Dakota to provide free identification with street addresses to thousands of members in advance of Tuesday’s election are cutting into the number of Native Americans who could potentially be turned away at the polls for lack of a proper ID under recently tightened state rules.
The free programs launched with the help of groups including the Lakota People’s Law Project and the Four Directions nonprofit so far have provided more than 2,000 voters on four reservations with the proper credentials. The effort to ensure a strong Native American vote comes amid uproar over what some believe is an attempt to suppress their votes.
“We’re at our best in crisis,” said Phyllis Young, an organizer on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation for the Lakota People’s Law Project, adding that the issue “is only making us more aware of our rights, more energized, and more likely to vote this November.”…
Changes to North Dakota’s voter ID laws came just months after Heitkamp’s win by fewer than 3,000 votes with the help of Native Americans in 2012, though Republicans say that had nothing to do with updates aimed at guarding against voter fraud. American Indians make up about 5 percent of North Dakota’s population.
The Turtle Mountain Chippewa, Standing Rock Sioux, Spirit Lake Sioux and Three Affiliated Tribes all have launched programs to provide free IDs with street address to tribal members in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling.
As of Tuesday, the programs had provided 1,050 IDs on the Turtle Mountain Reservation, more than 380 on the Spirit Lake Sioux Reservation and 440 on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. The Three Affiliated Tribes had provided only 140, but the program had just been launched the day before…
The effort is largely being financed through donations. The Native American Rights Fund has given the four tribes a total of $50,000, and a GoFundMe site set up by the Standing Rock Sioux had raised more than $200,000 from more than 4,300 donors as of mid-day Wednesday.
Alexis Davis, 19, chairwoman of the Turtle Mountain Youth Council, has an ID with a residential street address but said many of her friends do not. The voter ID issue has made them more resolved to be a part of the election process, she said.
“It’s like, oh you want to make this harder for me? Oh, you want to take away my rights?” she said. “It’s like, no, now I’m going to fight that, and I’m going to be more resilient, and I’m going to make sure that I’m going to go vote.”
In the Washington Post, Jamie Azure, tribal chairman for the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians — “North Dakota’s voter-ID law aimed to silence Native American voters. Instead, it rallied my tribe”:
… The state has a voting-eligible population of 580,000, and about 70,000 lack the right kind of ID. The law requires that these IDs have street addresses printed on them and specifically bans using a P.O. Box. This was clearly designed to target Native Americans. Most tribal IDs don’t have this information. In fact, many tribal citizens don’t have residential mailing addresses — the U.S. Postal Service does not provide residential delivery to their rural communities…
Members of the Turtle Mountain Band were key to fighting North Dakota’s law in the courts. At the same time, our tribal council made contingency plans so that when the Supreme Court declined to intervene to protect our voting rights last month, we sprang into reaction mode. Our tribal motor vehicle department, which issues IDs, had already arranged with the Bureau of Indian Affairs to get access to its database of street addresses so we could print that information on the new cards. (Members of other tribes have not been so fortunate. Some have reported that their county officials have been unavailable, or even issued incorrect addresses.) Through some finagling, we secured a new ID machine for each of our four polling sites on Election Day, to ensure that all eligible citizens can get an ID and vote when they show up. We have also waived the processing fee. For a single mother with three kids, that $15 could buy milk for a week. Our community has a nearly 15 percent poverty rate and a 59 percent unemployment rate. We don’t want people to have to make that choice.
Three generations ago, until the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Native Americans didn’t have the right to vote at the federal, state and local levels and still maintain tribal citizenship. This new law is intended to disenfranchise our population and hold us down. Ironically, it may have only served to rally the Turtle Mountain people and tribes across North Dakota. In 2016, our voter turnout was an all-time low. But a month ago, when we first opened the office to distribute free IDs to first-time applicants, hundreds of people showed up. The machine got so hot that it started to melt the cards. Then, at this week’s nonpartisan “Stand-N-Vote” rally — starring actor Mark Ruffalo and musician Billy Ray Cyrus, and with an ID machine at the ready — close to 1,400 tribal members filled the auditorium of our community college. The energy was electric…
Crowdpac fund here: Take Back the Senate in 2018 by getting Native Americans to the Polls
What's happening right now in North Dakota is just a disgrace, a totally open effort to prevent the state's American Indian population from voting. Watch this. pic.twitter.com/bCw268iKPK
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) November 2, 2018
This election will mark 70 years since the last de jure ban on voting by Native Americans. Miguel Trujillo, a Pueblo from New Mexico, should be in the history books for challenging his state's illegal ban on Indian voting.https://t.co/TwW1HgYR8X
— All Saints Dia De Los Muertos Hat (@NonWhiteHat) November 2, 2018